Loose Lips Daily: Money, Moten, and Marion Edition
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Good morning, sweet readers! LL's unborn child is doing well, 145 beat per minute as of this morning. LL and his wife haven't come up with a name yet, so we are referring to him as "Bean." Which, as far as this column is concerned, makes him LL's Bean. News time:
Money Money Money: The last of the campaign finance disclosures before the primary election were submitted last night. Vincent Gray more than doubled Adrian Fenty's take during the last month, but Fenty, who raised a heck of a lot of cash starting nearly two years ago, has twice as much money left to spend in the next six days than Gray does. Gray's cash on hand: $443,935. Fenty's $809,574.
Put another way: Fenty can afford to spend $135,000 a day until Sept. 14, while Gray can only spend $74,000. WBJ's Michael Neibauer notes (via Twitter) that Gray "is still not getting the big developer dollars" that many people expected he would after the Post's poll showed such Gray with such a commanding lead. See Neibauer's initial write-up here, and TBD's take here.
AFTER THE JUMP: Barry and Moten Face Off; Rhee Talks About Rhee; Cheh's Tough Sell...
And Now, For Something Completely Different: If you've had a really hard time deciding who to support in this mayoral race and can't seem to get past all the rhetoric and half-truths and negativity that seems to come with every election, boy, are you in luck. That's because the folks at Fox 5 put together a truly stellar debate last night between two campaign surrogates who both made reasoned, compelling arguments why their respective candidates deserve your vote... NOT! But the two charismatic ex-cons, Ron Moten and Marion Barry, did make for great TV. (Disclaimer: Any write-up of the debate will not do it justice, so please do yourself a favor and watch it.) Barry started off first, stretching the 20-second time slot he was given to well over a minute to talk about how Fenty "wooed" him nine or ten times in 2006, with promises to make Ward 8 better that he never followed through on, but instead created a "culture of corruption." Moten fired back that yes, Fenty had made mistakes, but he was surprised Barry, of all people, wouldn't be able to forgive the mayor: "Marion's made a lot of mistakes and we forgave him." Moten also reheated Fenty talking points by saying that the mayor had gotten results, including in Ward 8.
Fox anchor Brian Bolter kept the sexual innuendo game Barry started going by asking Moten if he was "friends with benefits" with Fenty, and it pretty much continued on like that for several minutes.
Both men played fast and loose with the facts: Here's the Post's Tim Craig with some quick fact-checking: "Barry repeatedly implied that Fenty was responsible for Harriette Walters being able to steal nearly $50 million from the D.C. Tax Office. Walters, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison last year, stole most of her money from 2001 to 2007, before Fenty was mayor. Moten, meanwhile, stated at least twice that Gray gave '$500 million' in city contracts to his friends, which appears to be untrue."
Craig has more on Moten and Barry this piece about the state of race, which has Gray strategist Mo Elleithee saying he thinks Fenty might have a slight lead at this point in the early voting, but Gray will ultimately prevail. "Although Gray later distanced himself from Elleithee's comments, they reflect the Gray campaign's respect for a Fenty operation that has shuttled potential supporters to the polls since early voting started 10 days ago." Anyway, Craig quotes Barry saying Moten and Peaceoholics co-founder Jauhar Abraham are using young supporters to employ "tactics of intimidation and bullying of people by screaming and yelling and starting fights with some of our workers." Moten said on Fox 5 that Barry's accusation isn't true, and Abraham accused a Gray supporter of "[slapping] a bullhorn" out of one of his friend's hands. Fun stuff.
The Gray camp also unveiled a new website Tuesday called "Formerly Fenty," that features a list and some testimonials of former Fenty backers who are now supporting Gray. The site shows that "the council chairman's mayoral campaign has paid just as much attention to identifying supporters as the much vaunted, high-priced Fenty campaign," according to Elleithee, as reported by Freeman Klopott at the Examiner.
Rhee on Rhee: DCist's Rachael Brown scores a Q & A with School Chancellor private citizen Michelle Rhee, who again makes it pretty clear that she's going to stick around if a certain mayoral candidate wins, and take off if a certain other mayoral candidate wins. Also of note: She thinks it is sexist when people say she's going to move to California to be with her new husband and don't suggest that he would move to D.C. And she's picky when it comes to what Post articles she reads (LL is guessing she likes the glowing editorials over Bill Turque's even-handed approach).
Cheh's Lonely Road: The Post's Courtland Milloy caught up with Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, who recently endorsed Gray despite the fact that her ward is predominately pro-Fenty. Cheh says the negative reaction to her endorsement has outweighed the positive, as Ward 3-ers are finally starting to feel good about the city after Barry's 1994 re-election, Milloy writes. Cheh's retort: "'Fenty made progress because he inherited a surplus of resources, money and goodwill, and he used it up ... Now we need someone who can reweave the social fabric that he ripped apart and take us to the next level."
Endorsement Fever: Gray snagged the Georgetown Dish's endorsement. The Dish says Gray is a skilled bridge-builder, while Fenty needs to sort out his issues. "While we urge voters to vote for Gray for Mayor, we also see a future leadership role in the District for Mr. Fenty and his energy, focus and vision. This means putting an end to the cronyism, devotion to political fund-raising, and secretive foreign trips, while being collegial with the Council, respectful of subordinates, open, transparent and honest with the media and the public." Meanwhile, The New Republic opens their endorsement of Fenty lamenting the fact that journalists "annoyingly inflate events in their own backyards, fallaciously treating the local and provincial as mega-trends and national harbingers," and then goes on to do just that. TNR makes the now familiar hero-worshipping case that a vote for Fenty is a vote for Rhee, the only person in the entire universe who can make D.C.'s schools better. A Gray victory, according to TNR, will send a nationwide signal that education reform isn't inevitable, and woe to any politician who stakes his career on taking on teacher unions. As the Post's Mike DeBonis points out on Twitter, this editorial ignores too many details singular to this race by setting up a Fenty-as-a-martyr-for-education-reform argument. "Reality: If Fenty loses, he will be a martyr to his own political cluelessness." For more on said cluelessness, check out LL's column tomorrow.
Stupid Comparison Time: TNR's Jonathan Chait takes the Dave Weigel challenge of comparing Fenty's impending loss to President Barack Obama's sinking political fortunes, saying the two are alike because they have "pursued an aggressive reform agenda that has produced rapid, impressive policy results, while devoting little attention to managing the optics of his administration." TBD's Kevin Robillard compares Gray supporters to the Tea Party movement. "Both are trying to preserve an economic and cultural position they feel is slipping from their grasp." Yikes! What is this, freshman lit? William Shakespeare's Hamlet is like Adrian Fenty, because he's socially awkward and people don't like him, but Hamlet is also like Vincent Gray because he goes back and forth and can't make up his mind. Let's leave the over-simplified half-baked ideas at home, okay fellas?
The Sierra Club gives Gray the nod, saying Fenty has been a "great disappointment to environmentalists."
The Times' Deborah Simmons reports that Gray is unhappy that there aren't more blacks in the city's public safety and education leadership positions. Then again, Simmons also calls Leo Alexander a leading candidate.